Wicked Lovely Page 55


Turning, Donia caught Aislinn's gaze and killed the hope that had crept into her voice. "She died."


He is no less a personage than the King of Faerie…Very numerous indeed are [his subjects] and very various are they in their natures. He is the sovereign of those beneficent and joyous beings…who dance in the moonlight.

— The Mabinogion (notes) by Lady Charlotte Guest (1877)

Keenan stirred his drink idly. The Rath usually cheered him, but all he could think about was how to convince Aislinn that she was essential. He had let his emotions go earlier, let his power leak all over her, and she'd swooned— recognizing it as it called to her own changed self—but he'd need another tactic for their next meeting.

Never the same move twice.

"If you aren't going to talk, go dance, Keenan." Tavish spoke calmly, as if he weren't worried. "It will do them well to see you smiling."

Beyond him, the girls were dancing, spinning in that dizzying way that they liked, and giggling. Guards—on and off duty—circulated through the crowd. Though it was his club, the winter fey and the dark fey both frequented it more and more, making his own guards increasingly necessary as time passed. Only the high court fey seemed able to follow house rules somewhat regularly. Even his own summer fey weren't well behaved most nights.

"Right." Keenan slammed back the rest of his drink and motioned to Cerise.

His cell rang, and it was her. Her voice. Her. My resistant queen. "Aislinn?"

He made a writing motion in the air. Tavish held out a napkin; Niall scrambled for a pen.

"Sure…No, I'm at the Rath. I could come now…" He hung up and stared at the phone.

Tavish and Niall looked expectantly at him.

Keenan motioned for Cerise to go back to the floor. "She wants to meet and talk."

"See? She'll fall in line like the rest of them," Tavish said approvingly.

"Do you need us or can we go" — Niall snagged Siobhan around the waist as she walked by—"relax?"

"Go dance."

"Keenan?" Cerise held out a hand.

"No, not now." He turned away, watching the cubs run through the crowd, barely avoiding being trampled under the dancers' feet.

He let his sunlight trickle out over the crowd, setting several illusory suns to rotate over the dancers. My queen sought me out. It would all be as it should, soon. My queen, finally beside me. He laughed joyously, seeing his fey frolic in front of him, the fey who'd waited with him. Soon, he'd be able to restore the court to order. Soon, all would be right.

Aislinn walked down to the abandoned building by the riverside, murmuring Donia's advice over and over with each step: Take the offensive. She tried to believe she could do it, but the mere idea of going into their den made her feel ill. She'd seen enough faeries going into Rath and Ruins over the years that she'd known to avoid it at all costs.

But here I am.

She knew where he was, knew that he'd come if she beckoned, but Donia thought this was wiser. Be aggressive. Strike first.

Aislinn clung to the hope that there was a way to keep her life, at least as much of it as she could.

I still don't even know what he wants, not really. So she was going to ask— demand —that he talk to her, that he tell her what he wanted, and why.

I can do this. She stopped at the door.

In front of her, half leaning on a stool, was one of the club's bouncers. Under the glamour, he was a terrifying sight—curled tusks spiraled out on either side of his face, ending in sharp points. He looked like he spent all of his time lifting weights, a fact he didn't hide with his glamour.

She stopped several steps away from him. "Excuse me?"

He lowered his magazine and looked over his sunglasses. "Members only."

She looked up at him, catching his gaze as best she could, and said, "I want to see the Summer King."

He laid the magazine aside. "The what?"

She straightened her shoulders. Be assertive. It sounded a lot easier than it felt.

She tried again. "I want to see Keenan. He's in there. And I know he wants to see me. I'm the" — she forced the words out—"new girl in his life."

"You shouldn't come here," he grumbled as he opened the door and motioned to a boy with a lion's mane standing just inside. "Tell the…tell Keenan that…" He looked at her. Ash.

"That Ash is out here."

The lion-boy nodded and scampered off, disappearing through a doorway. His glamour made him seem cherubic, his lion's mane a wild twist of sandy-blond dreads. Of the fey around town, the lion-maned ones were among the few that never seemed to cause trouble on purpose.

The guard let the door fall closed with a thud. He picked up his magazine, but he kept glancing at her and shaking his head.

Her heart thudded. Trying to feign nonchalance, she glanced back at the street. Only a few cars had driven by so far; it wasn't a busy area.

If I'm going to go for aggressive, why not start now? A practice run. The next time he looked back at his magazine, she said, "For what it's worth, you're sexier with the tusks."

He gaped at her. The magazine hit the damp ground with a soft smack. "With the what?"

"Tusks. Seriously, if you're going to go with a glamour, add bars in place of your tusks." Aislinn gave him an appraising look. "Bit more menacing, too."

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